It’s been just over a year since the 2014 Corvette Stingray debuted, and GM is already hard at work on the next generaton of Corvettes. In a recent interview, GM product chief Mark Reuss wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a hybrid Corvette in response to competitors and MPG mandates.
While Reuss wouldn’t rule out either a hybrid or electric Corvette for the next generation, I think the jump to a full-on battery electric ‘Vette is too dramatic a shift from the status quo. Corvette buyers love their big V8s, and big V8s are likely to remain the staple of the Corvette lineup for years to come. GM has actually managed to deliver as much as 29 MPG in the 2014 Corvette thanks to features like an aluminum frame and cylinder deactivation. 30 MPG in a 450 horsepower sports car is all but unheard of…but it won’t be enough.
Eventually, even cars like the Corvette will have to contribute to the 54.5 MPG CAFE fleet average automakers have to meet. That could necessitate a plug-in hybrid drivetrain similar to the BMW i8 to meet MPG mandates. The i8 uses a pair of electric motors and three-cylinder range extender to provide ample motivation and 94 MPGe thanks to a 21-mile electric driving range. A similar setup could see a hybrid Corvette with that big V8 still driving the rear wheels, but a small battery and electric motor to improve efficiency in around town driving, resulting in a huge jump on gas mileage. I mean, who would complain about a 400 HP Corvette that delivers 50+ MPG? Not this guy.
If it seems like a far-fetched idea, well frankly, it is, at least right now. An all-new Corvette is at least eight years out, and even though new fuel economy mandates are pushing for more hybrids and electrics, there’s still room for one more generation of V8-powered sports cars. A variety of factors could affect the urgency GM feels in bringing a greener ‘Vette to dealerships, and it’s still too far out to say which way we could go. GM even teased the idea of a hybrid sports car in the 2009 Corvette Stingray Concept nicknamed Sideswipe for the Transformers movies, but
Eventually though, a hybrid Corvette makes a lot of sense, especially if GM wants to lure in younger buyers. I love the look of the new Corvette Stingray, but it still reeks of “old man car” when you get right down to it. Independent shops have tried bringing the Corvette’s drivetrain into the 21st century, but now GM seems to be on board too.
There are those people who think the only way to go fast is with a big engine, but those people are becoming the exception, rather than the rule. Hybrid and electric drivetrains are the future, even for a car like the mighty Corvette, and I for one can’t wait for a hybrid version to hit dealerships.
Source: The Detroit Free Press